23 December, 2009

Guest Blogging 4: This Time, It's Personal

My Glass Menagerie post is up on the Bitch blog! (Lol at misspelling in the link title; I had to go back and edit the title since I hilariously spelled "blue" as "bue.")

Yes, it is basically a mash note to Laura Wingfield.

On an unrelated note, I hope everyone has a happy holiday/solstice/New Year!

18 December, 2009

Son of Guest Blogging

My latest Bitch post--on Supercrip--is up!

I predict that someone will blast me for the Chris Reeve comment at the end of the third full paragraph (even though many disability activists have been taking exception to Reeve's public persona for a long time).

23 November, 2009

More Guest Blogging

I have another post up on the Bitch Blog today; it's about popular songs that get disability right, for the most part. Considering that this post did not take nearly as long as the Lady Gaga one to write, I am very pleased with how it turned out.

20 November, 2009

I Can Has BitchBlog Post!

I have a post up on Bitch as part of the Transcontinental Disability Choir guest blog stint! It's on Lady Gaga's video for "Paparazzi."

Please read it!

29 October, 2009

Guess What?

Dear Certain Able-Bodied Bloggers Who Are Trying Soooo Hard to Stop Fucking Up,

I and other people with disabilities are not your Very Special Learning experience, no matter how much you may want to put us in that box.

As one of the original PWD blogger participants in the chat, furthermore, I'd really like it if the person who apparently believes that we are her Very Special Learning Experiences would a.) Apologize to Amandaw for breaking out the tone argument during the course of the chat (full transcript is here), and b.) attribute sources properly for the suggestions at the end of said Very Special Learning post. Part of the post makes it sound like the Feministing editors came up with the suggestions for improvement. Observe:

"The full summary of the suggestions from the group we engaged with appear after the jump. You can also see the transcript of our chat here.

And here's a quick recap of our substantive suggestions:

* A concrete statement of the site's commitment to intersectionality issues, to address what seems to be a popular feeling among commenters that the site is "Feministing, not SocialJusticeing." Whether a joint post for site authors or another mechanism turns out to be the best way to make this statement was undecided during the chat.

* Guest posts from people with disabilities focusing on a wide range of disability issues. Talks with Patty Berne had begun before these issues were raised and she may do more guest posts or potentially contribute to the site. We clarified our desire to see a wider range of issues addressed than have been in the past 2 years or so, when the only explicit focus on people with disabilities has been about performance art groups. Other potential areas to cover include political issues, health issues, employment issues, etc.

* Increased accessibility of the site itself. Miriam mentioned a current site redesign is in process, so it would be an excellent time to incorporate some increased accessibility. We suggested using this site to identify accessibility barriers and suggestions for fixes: http://wave.webaim.org/

* A clear and reliable mechanism for user flagging abusive comments and getting a response - currently it's unclear where those go, what criteria is used to determine whether it stays or not, with no feedback on criteria. We have noticed that the "report abuse" button now seems to direct emails to the author of the original post, rather than a general email. Miriam also mentioned plans to focus more on comment moderation, including creating a community editor/moderator position and incorporating community members in comment moderation.

* Current and updated contact information for all authors."

You call these YOUR substantive suggestions? These were OUR suggestions, and were not properly attributed to an email sent to the group by abbyjean, who was the organizer/official organizational muscle on our side of the chat.

The mis-attribution could have been a (big) typo, but on the other hand, given what went down in the chat, I am strongly adverse to giving certain folks the benefit of the doubt for any longer.

Oh, one more thing, Certain Able-Bodied Bloggers: IT'S. NOT. ALL. ABOUT. YOU.

Take from this statement what you will.

[I am speaking for myself here, and not as a representative of FWD//Feminists With Disabilities.]

ETA: The irony is killing me. The mere fact that a certain someone can break out the "tone" argument and then, in all seriousness, post something like the above--emotions for me, but not for thee--is truly stunning.

18 October, 2009

IIB v 1.0

Note: This is a revised version of a bingo card that I made some time ago. I will be moderating the crap out of this thread, meaning that I will expect comments to follow the comments policy to the letter.

While I don't feel like I should be required to justify the lowermost right square, there was some confusion and pretty ooky pushback when I posted version 1 on my own blog. I'll explain that square anyway, for CMA purposes: I am aware that pot works for many people with chronic pain, and personally have no issue if people other than myself use it. I'm an advocate of finding what works for you; whether it's a pill, plant, pilates-esque routine, or something else, your course of pain management should be your choice.

What I am referring to with this bingo card -- as a whole -- is the commonplace, rather irritating tendency of some able-bodied people to suggest -- without knowing about the medical history of (or, indeed, much about) the person they are "trying to help" -- remedies or treatments that may be totally inappropriate for that person, due to various (personal) reasons. In short, what works for you may not work for me, and vice versa; how I wish I could have articulated this to the folks who have "helpfully suggested" that I smoke pot or obtain other illegal "meds" to help with my pain!

Okay, explanatory note/rant over. Onto the bingo card! I hope you all have your chips ready.

Also, special thanks to Ouyang for suggesting the "Diet and Exercise!!1" free space.


Text translation: card has white text on a black background. Title (in white) reads, “annaham presents: Invisible Illness Bingo 1.0,” followed by “Now With Straighter Lines” in red:

First Row, Square #1: All that’s keeping you from being healthy is a positive attitude!

First Row, Square #2: My ex/friend/co-worker had that, but he/she was just a hypochondriac.

First Row, Square #3: Maybe if you lost weight/found a man/read The Secret, your problems would be solved.

First Row, Square #4: Why can’t you just suck it up, get out of bed, and find a job like the rest of us?

Second Row, Square #1: Lucky! You get to stay in bed all day.

Second Row, Square #2 (middle square): Free Space/DIET AND EXERCISE!!!11

Second Row, Square #3: You don’t look sick/you’re just complaining too much

Third Row, Square #1: Obviously, you get something out of being sick. Otherwise, you’d get better!

Third Row, Square #2: If I haven’t heard of it, then it doesn’t exist.

Third Row, Square #3: But I went through hard times too, and I got through it. Let’s talk about what a great person I am.

Third Row, Square #4: You have it so much better than some people! Think of the starving children in Africa…

Fourth Row, Square #1: Let go and let God/Power of prayer/God is punishing you

Fourth Row, Square #2: You just want an excuse to be lazy and have people pity you.

Fourth Row, Square #3: Why haven’t you tried crystals/vitamins/other dubious “cure”? IT REALLY WORKS!!!

Fourth Row, Square #4: Smoke pot/take illegal drugs. It will totally take care of your pain, man!

06 October, 2009

Song of the Moment, or a Follow-Up of Sorts

Diamanda Galas always has an appropriate song for every occasion, especially the ones that involve lots of RAGE. To wit:

And with that, currently able-bodied white privileged feminists, I would like you to know that we will NOT be silent, nor silenced.

Background: here, here, here, here, here, here, and right here.

05 October, 2009

Confessions of a Reluctant Young White Feminist

Dear Feministing.com,

Once upon a time, I posted this on my Livejournal: "One day, I will write about my numerous issues with Feministing.com."

Guess what? Today is that day! Lucky you.

Let me introduce myself: I am a feminist, an occasional blogger, a person with disabilities (fibromyalgia, cerebral palsy), and am currently getting my Master's Degree in Women & Gender Studies. I am also white, heterosexual, cisgendered, have a college degree, and am relatively economically privileged. I, at first glance, seem to embody many (stereo)typical qualities of a young, white feminist: from the type of music I enjoy, to how I dress, to the fact that I sometimes wear makeup, and, on occasion, read BUST magazine when I need a break from "serious" literature. Because I am white, I have the choice to ignore issues surrounding race, and those surrounding white privilege. Because I am heterosexual and cisgendered, I can brush off queer and trans issues if I so choose. Because I am white, economically privileged and have a college degree, I can probably rest assured that I will have a job in the future, even with my rather esoteric choice of college major and advanced degree.

One could argue that your site is pretty much made for people like me: the "fun" feminists who can wear makeup and heels [I can't wear heels, but that's for another post], go out and party like it's 1999 [I don't, but that, too, is for another post], and still fight for [their own] rights the next morning. One could argue that your contributors do, in fact, speak for folks like me, and that since they are the face of the fourth wave, I should just be thankful that feminist issues are getting any airtime or page space in the mainstream media at all, and/or that people who look like me are getting book deals.

But here's where our feminisms differ, Feministing.com: I am saddened by your numerous issues when it comes to representing people who are not like you. You all don't have the greatest track record when it comes to race and white privilege, trans issues, disability issues, economic privilege, and a ton of other things that I am probably accidentally leaving out. If someone new to feminism were to look at your website--which, not incidentally, is one of the "top" feminist websites, at least in the U.S.--they might conclude that feminism is a movement that is exclusively for young, white, heterosexual, able-bodied, sexually active, upper-middle-class women. If you know about the history of feminism in the U.S., and I assume that you do, you will see why this is so troubling.

There is more to the feminist movement than fighting for the rights of white women. Feminism is more than allowing your or your commenters' racial, economic, heterosexual, and able-bodied privilege to go totally unchecked. If you are so committed to "intersectionality," as you have claimed several times, where is it? True efforts toward inclusivity and intersectionality constitute more than simply talking about those things, or throwing around whatever blogular buzzword is currently hot, or thinking that droppin' those terms like they are on fire will suffice. There is an enormous chasm of difference between talking about doing something and actually doing it.

There is no gentle way to say this, Feministing.com: You do not speak for me, and I'm not sure that you ever will. I want to give you a chance, but until you actually start to make changes instead of alternately talking about making them and ignoring those of us who have asked you to, it is going to be difficult for me to hold out any hope.

You've already made it clear that I am not like you; apparently, neither are the people who have asked you, time and time again, to take what they have to say seriously, and to make changes accordingly.

You have also made it clear that there is no room for people like me in your version of "fun" feminism. There is no room in your world for my brothers and sisters: feminists and womanists of color, feminists with disabilities, working class feminists, fat feminists, queer and LGBTI feminists, asexual feminists, older feminists, or trans folk.

I understand. Boy, do I understand.

I will end with the following quote from the great Barbara Smith:

"Feminism is the political theory and practice that struggles to free all women: women of color, working-class women, poor women, disabled women, Jewish women, lesbians, old women--as well as white, economically privileged heterosexual women. Anything less than this vision of total freedom is not feminism, but merely female self-aggrandizement." [From "Racism and Women's Studies," 1979]


ETA, 7:27 PM PST: There's been an important update from meloukhia on this whole situation; Anna also has a lovely link roundup.

ETA II: I will be modding the shit out of both this and related posts; leaving trollish or inflammatory comments might spell D-E-L-E-T-I-O-N for you. Don't like it? Don't comment.

02 October, 2009

OFFS, Feministing.com

I don't know if I'll ever truly expect that Feministing will get it when it comes to disability and ableism issues, but some of the language in this post is simply appalling:

If having my car door opened makes me feel like lover man thinks I'm an invalid, not so feminist.


Therefore, I enthusiastically endorse and co-sign meloukhia's Open Letter to Feministing, because the Feministing bloggers' and commenters' fashionable ableism, along with the seemingly tacit refusal to cover disability issues (except for when, as Amandaw points out, a disability issue is connected with reproductive rights in some way), are not new things.

Feminists with disabilities are people too, bloggers and commenters of Feministing.

This is why I don't read your site, and will continue not to until you do something about this problem. I mean, really, Feministing crew--it's time to get out of your incredibly privileged bubble and acknowledge that disability and ableism ARE feminist issues, and that the current way in which you treat feminist disability issues (see what I did there?) needs improvement.

28 September, 2009

Objectivity: Its Uses and Abuses

A few months ago (I know it's, like, FOR-EV-ER in internet time, but bear with me, because as I have already explained, I can't update often because of various issues), Amandaw did a series of guest posts at Feministe, and--similar to what happened when she guest-posted last year--people kind of missed the point, and in some cases, did this rather spectacularly, by accusing her of not being "objective" enough in listening to criticism, among other things.

Here's the thing: Objectivity is absolutely, awesomely useful in many areas. The natural and physical sciences are just two areas where it is, understandably, required; quantitative studies in the Humanities are also useful to those of us who do scholarly work in that field.

But when you have such an e-boner for OBJECTIVITY in everything ever that you have to steamroll over peoples' experiences because you have an expert platform from which to do so, and your commentariat feels the need to pipe up about how they, too, have had similar experiences with PWDs and their goddamn bitching and why can't PWDs be more objective?!, then there is a bit of a problem. Specifically, when the entire point of someone's post is how a possible piece of legislation will impact those who need the proposed banned substance the most, being rabid about OBJECTIVITY is probably not the best strategy to take. Personal experience is subjective, and if you insist on screeching OBJECTIVITY OBJECTIVITY WHY CAN'T YOU BE REASONABLE, you are missing the entire point. The whole aim of Amandaw's post on the proposed Percoset and Vicodin ban was to demonstrate exactly why it is (and was) such a terrible idea--using her personal experience as someone with chronic pain to make her point.

If you're going to read the above-linked Skepchick post, I would suggest doing so with caution; one reason why I did not cover this when it happened was because I could not read the above thread without getting extremely upset. I'm going to get slammed for this, because it is not OBJECTIVE enough, but I still can't read through it without getting upset. Here is just a taste of the delightful comments following the post:

[Ridiculous comment by this person; macro by me, because I watched Aliens the other night for approximately the 443rd time.]

Before anyone goes all BUT THEY ARE EXAMINING IT **OBJECTIVELY**, STOP TAKING IT PERSONALLY-robotic on me, please remember: there is no way that I can not take it personally; many of the comments there are hateful toward people with chronic pain, or with disabling chronic pain. If you know anything about disability rights, or anything about social justice, or marginalized groups versus the majority, or even a very basic concept like privilege (and no, the "PWD privilege" argument in the above post is most definitely not what I am talking about here), you will see why this is not good. It does not matter if you hide your contempt for PWDs and chronically ill people behind the guise of OBJECTIVITY--you are still hiding your contempt (and just barely, I might add).

Tell me I'm wrong, skeptical people. Tell me that a (young) disabled feminist atheist like myself has a place in the movement, and not just in the young-white-cute-steamrollering-privileged-feminist subset of the skeptical movement. I wish I could see a place for myself in the movement, but right now, I really can't.

Obligatory, non-OBJECTIVE Disclaimer: This blog is a SAFE SPACE for people with disabilities and chronic illnesses, including chronic pain. If you're going to leave a comment about how one of my responses makes my entire blog/opinion moot, or how people with disabilities need to accommodate non-disabled people in attitude, openness, or helping ABs process their feelings, or that I'm too angry/emotional, or that you, as an able-bodied person, can totally relate and here's a long comment detailing exactly how, please remember that such a comment might not be taken in good faith, and that I might be a jackass to you in return.

27 September, 2009

Autism Speaks Says: People With Autism Cannot Speak For Themselves

So this Autism Speaks video, made by once-awesome director Alfonso Cuaron and talentless hack "singer-songwriter" Billy Mann, is REALLY problematic and upsetting.

Yeah, implying that autism is always dangerous and horrible and will ruin your family and bankrupt you, and that your child who has autism is not really a person, but has been "taken over" by the condition...that's a great strategy.

It's fairly telling that the children and families shown in this video do not get to speak for themselves; nope, the creepy man-voice of "autism" speaks for them--as does this "charitable" organization.

I'd heard several times that Autism Speaks was/is fucking sketchy, but this is beyond the pale. Tigtog has more on this and why it is problematic.

17 September, 2009

Obligatory NIIAW Post

So, it's National Invisible Illness Awareness Week.

As with all of my disability-related posts, the following applies: This blog is a SAFE SPACE for people with disabilities. If you're going to leave a comment about how one of my responses makes my entire blog/opinion moot, or how people with disabilities need to accommodate non-disabled people in attitude, openness, or helping ABs process their feelings, or that I'm too angry/emotional or not "objective" enough, or that you, as an able-bodied person, can totally relate and here's a long comment detailing exactly how, or that you are concerned about the tone of my post, or that I should "just try" this miracle supplement that totally cured your brother's guy friend's drinking buddy's co-worker, please remember that such a comment might not be taken in good faith, and that I might be a jackass to you in return.

1. The illness I live with is: Fibromyalgia

2. I was diagnosed with it in the year: 2007

3. But I have had symptoms since: 2006

4. The biggest adjustment I’ve had to make is: Not being so hard on myself, and also not having too many commitments.

5. Most people assume: That being young means that you cannot have serious health problems, or that I am not "really" disabled. DISABILITY POLICE! WEE OO WEE OO

6. The hardest part about mornings is: Combating joint stiffness

7. My favorite medical TV show is: House

8. A gadget I couldn’t live without is: My iPod

9. The hardest part about nights is: Falling asleep without tossing and turning!

10. Each day I take 1 pills & vitamins. [Cymbalta]

11. Regarding alternative treatments I: have tried two that did not work (hypnosis, vitamins) and one that has worked (acupuncture)

12. If I had to choose between an invisible illness or visible I would choose: I don't know

13. Regarding working and career: Thank FSM that I got financial aid for grad school, because having a job at this point is out of the question.

14. People would be surprised to know: That I'm not as mean in real life as I sound on the internet. No, seriously.

15. The hardest thing to accept about my new reality has been: Peoples' stupidity is harder to deal with than the actual physical pain.

16. Something I never thought I could do with my illness that I did was: Stand up for myself.

17. The commercials about my illness: Bug the SHIT out of me. Since when can someone with fibro write in perfect cursive? Also, the way that the actors in the ads pronounce "fibromyalgia" makes it sound like a vegetable, not an actual medical condition.

18. Something I really miss doing since I was diagnosed is: Playing guitar :(

19. It was really hard to have to give up: Being able to stay up past 11 PM or so

20. A new hobby I have taken up since my diagnosis is: Cooking!

21. If I could have one day of feeling normal again I would: Go see a movie, go shopping, and then go out to eat, because I would be thrilled to be able to do all three in one day without getting exhausted.

22. My illness has taught me: That a lot of people are pretty stupid and subscribe to "if I can't see it, it isn't there/doesn't exist" thinking, but also that illness affects people of all gender identities, races, ethnicities, ages, sexualities, and class backgrounds.

23. Want to know a secret? One thing people say that gets under my skin is: "You should try positive thinking!" Thanks, dipshit.

24. But I love it when people: Are not afraid to admit that there are things about disability that they don't know, without also expecting that I'll play the role of Magical Disabled Person Who Teaches Them a Lesson About Life.

25. My favorite motto, scripture, quote that gets me through tough times is: "Tomorrow might be better."

26. When someone is diagnosed I’d like to tell them: It's not the end of the world

27. Something that has surprised me about living with an illness is: That people say similar ridiculous things, and that some people keep suggesting "cures" even if I've rebuffed their suggestions before.

28. The nicest thing someone did for me when I wasn’t feeling well was: It's the little things, mostly--asking if I need a break, need to sit down, if there's anything he/she can do, et cetera.

29. I’m involved with Invisible Illness Week because: Awareness just isn't enough; in some cases, it breeds complacency.

30. The fact that you read this list makes me feel: Thankful that I have so many friends who will put up with me!

Find out more about National Invisible Chronic Illness Awareness Week and the 5-day free virtual conference with 20 speakers Sept 14-18, 2009 at www.invisibleillness.com

13 August, 2009

Not My Type of Feminism, Redux

I wrote this as part of a post I made back in May, but given current goings-on, I think it still applies, and will (unfortunately) probably still apply to certain segments of the blogosphere for quite a while:

I find it [...] difficult to understand why some are so dedicated to holding on to the last vestiges of their privilege, even as they give lip service to things like "inclusion" and "diversity." Neither term holds meaning when used by a certain type "good" mainstream liberal/feminist/et al to describe just how awesome and progressive they themselves are; oftentimes, these words are used to make those in the mainstream feel better about themselves, their privilege(s), and their biases--some of which they just cannot let go.

I want to be optimistic; I want to trust people when they say that they really do want to change, to be more inclusive, to give space to those who may be underrepresented, and that they are actively working on all of these things. There are certain things that I don't want to do, however, and most of the time, this includes being forever mega-understanding and/or fulfilling the role of Magical Invisibly Disabled Girl (I do enough of that when I'm not on the internet, to be frank) ALL OF THE DAMNED TIME. Initially, I responded to a WATRD blogger's comment on yesterday's post by being somewhat conciliatory and providing links to various disability blogs, hoping that she would actually take my suggestions--and this, after many voices have made similar suggestions to boot.

Because of the most recent WATRD post, however, I now feel even less confident that all of the voices who have (thank FSM) spoken up are, in fact, being taken seriously.

A huge part of making changes--whether personal or not--involves a willingness to actually do the work on one's own. It's not just about talking the talk, either. Saying that you will change means nothing if you do not actually make any changes.

12 August, 2009

In which I am counterproductive

Dear White Cis Able-Bodied Women With "Core" Body Image Issues That Are Apparently Resonant With ALL Women, and Who Call Yourselves "the Real Deal,"

No. You. Aren't.

And no, I'm not "just jealous."


A white woman with a disability who is sick of this kind of thing

06 August, 2009

I Make Things: Cupcake Edition

This is kind of late, but I did not realize until today that I neglected to share a picture of the Heaven's Gate-inspired (cult, NOT movie) cupcakes that I made some time ago after finishing my undergrad thesis on the group and its representation in the U.S. media. Blogger (like Twitter) is being disagreeable today and won't let me insert a cut (?!). So, since these basically look like dead bodies made out of cupcake material--and after reading some very sensible criticism from other blog-friends--I've spaced the image further down the page. If you are at all sensitive to images of dead bodies recreated in sugar, please feel free to skip this post.

They were delicious. The book Hello, Cupcake! was particularly useful when it came to cooking and crafting techniques.

01 July, 2009

Thanks, Feds!

Yes, because banning prescription pain pills that actually WORK for people with chronic pain/illness due to concerns surrounding "liver damage" totally makes sense.

Why not just ban acetaminophen as a whole, instead of JUST Percoset and Vicodin only because they contain that ingredient? I hate to say it, but acetaminophen/Tylenol does not do jack for me. I take Vicodin when my pain is really unbearable because of the other stuff contained in the pill.

I agree with this, however: “If you keep track of what you’re taking, none of this is an issue for you,” Dr. Jan Engle, a panel member and head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice at the University of Illinois in Chicago, said in an interview after the meeting.

It's too bad that the rest of the committee apparently chose to not consider that aspect. Not everyone is going to overdose on these pills, or take a particularly high or life-threatening dose. I don't want to sound like I do not have compassion for those who do overdose accidentally, but banning these medications outright--instead of educating folks about correct dosages, and treating those who do have serious addictions--seems rather short-sighted.

02 June, 2009

In Light of Recent "Discussions" (By Which I Mean "Angry-Making Threads")...

I feel that I must dedicate this song to my blogfriends Anna, Amandaw, Donna, Lauredhel, and WP.

I know it's rough sometimes, but we have to keep fighting, and we will.

31 May, 2009

Stuff You Should Read

Lauredhel has a fantastic post up about the specter of "parking permit abuse" and why it's overblown; also, be sure to check out her post about some extremely problematic legislation in Australia that would further limit who gets said parking permits.

Anna covers several nations' resistance to a treaty that would allow those who have reading-related disabilities to have more access to reading materials.

Dr. George Tiller, who was one of the few late-term abortion providers in the U.S., was shot this morning as he walked into church.

26 May, 2009

Link Love: bfp!

A must-read post from bfp.

Go read it if you haven't already.

24 May, 2009

Yay, Arrested Development!

The quality is awful, but this clip makes me laugh every time I see it:

Of course, I highly recommend the show if you haven't seen it already!

22 May, 2009

This is Not My Type of Feminism

There are days when I question whether feminism, as a whole, is welcoming to people like me. Or to people who are not *exactly* like me, but are still part of groups that have historically been ignored, erased, marginalized, or plundered by "mainstream" feminism.

This absolute trainwreck of a "discussion"--on mental illness--happened over two weeks ago at Feministe, and I'm still thinking about it. Many (though not all) of the comments on that post are horrific displays of ableist tripe.

I do not understand why some find it so haaaaaard to grasp that disability and ableism are feminist issues, or that disability rights and women's rights are connected; I find it equally difficult to understand why some are so dedicated to holding on to the last vestiges of their privilege, even as they give lip service to things like "inclusion" and "diversity." Neither term holds meaning when used by a certain type "good" mainstream liberal/feminist/et al to describe just how awesome and progressive they themselves are; oftentimes, these words are used to make those in the mainstream feel better about themselves, their privilege(s), and their biases--some of which they just cannot let go.

Again and again, I see comments in several places online that suggest that disabled and other marginalized people, and their experiences, are only good for two things: enabling the "growth and development" of mainstream feminists, and providing abstract (at least to those who have that privilege) discussion fodder that allows various "concerned" fems to do their thing without questioning their own privilege. Both of these have the effect of depoliticizing any radical potential that those who are NOT het white cis upper-middle class able-bodied mentally "healthy" feminists may bring to the table. In a way, it's kind of like using the ideas of radical women of color--without referencing where these ideas come from!--to make a point about your wedding, of all things.

It fucking hurts.

12 May, 2009


Since when is the claim "ableism is not feminist" a controversial one?

05 May, 2009

Disability 101!

I've started a series of Disability 101 posts over at FoF, and I'd be thrilled to have you all check out the first entry!

Many thanks to Tigtog for brilliantly starting and keeping up the excellent Finally Feminism 101 blog, which inspired me to start a Dis101 series.

03 May, 2009

The Drug Thing

Recently, I have been thinking about how I was pretty harsh to one particular commenter on IIB I. In retrospect, I realize that my comparison of smoking pot to gambling was unfair, and am working on a version of IIB I that both shifts the wording a bit and is a bit “neater” graphic-wise (yes, I have finally figured out how to make straight lines in Photoshop!).

However, there is still something that I have an issue with as far as the whole “pot has been tested by science and you should [do something] to keep an open mind/reflect this in your post!” argument goes: Many of the people from whom I have heard this argument from are not dealing with disability or chronic illness. In my rather limited experience, this tactic seems like the whole abled-bodied-people knowing what is “best” for PWDs in every circumstance thing yet again—-particularly when the ABs' “well-meaning” advice has to do with exactly which treatments the PWD should or should not be pursuing.

I am aware that pot does work for many people with chronic pain, and I am not opposed to people using it if it works for them. What I do take exception to is the insinuation—again, mostly from able-bodied people who are unaware of my family history of addiction (this is what has made me personally uncomfortable with the use of illegal substances for my own pain relief)—that I, as a person with a disability, do not know what is best for me when it comes to pain management. As I have said before, there is no substance that is miraculous for everyone who tries it—not booze, not pot, not the medicines that I myself take (Cymbalta and, on occasion, Vicodin). When people imply that I should just keep an open mind about this treatment, or think about trying that one because it has worked for someone they know, or that my personal experiences with people who are “just trying to help” by suggesting all kinds of things somehow renders my other points moot, I tend to get angry. My patience runs out, because I deal with these “well-meaning” suggestions quite often, and find that I must also manage some folks’ feelings when they are hurt that I don’t throw myself at their feet with gratitude for every single suggestion, whether that suggestion relates to the use of vitamins, recreational drugs or “positive” thinking.

As Amandaw so gracefully puts it:

I don’t know what the hell is going on in the life of the next chronic pain patient you might meet. That’s the point. You just don’t know. You don’t have the slightest concept of what their background is or how their body works or what they’ve tried before. So why do you assume it’s totally benign to throw this in their face? Why are you acting as though you know their body, their history, their experiences better than they do?

Do I have the time to detail everything above every time someone “helpfully” informs me that marijuana can be good for pain relief? Should I have to reveal all this stuff to total strangers, or even acquaintances, coworkers, casual friends? Even if all this stuff wasn’t there, and I just didn’t feel like using it: why can’t I have that decision respected?

Not everyone will relate to all of the spaces on the Bingo cards; though I have tried to construct them so that as many of the spaces as possible are (in general) applicable to the experiences of people with invisible disabilities and chronic illnesses, this does not mean that I will radically change them based on the opinions of apparently able-bodied people who are, of course, only trying to help.

02 May, 2009

Macro: Concerned Cat

Via commenter Tionista at FFJ comes this amazing cat macro:


01 May, 2009

Invisible Illness Bingo 2: Back For Revenge

Hey, it's Blogging Against Disablism Day!

Blogging Against Disablism Day, May 1st 2009

My contribution is Invisible Illness Bingo 2 (IIB 1 is here); click for a larger version:

Something to remember if you're going to comment on this post: This blog is a SAFE SPACE for people with disabilities. If you're going to leave a comment about how one of my posts/points/bingo squares makes my entire blog/opinion/bingo card moot, or how my bingo card is not properly formatted, or how people with disabilities need to accommodate non-disabled people in attitude, openness, or helping ABs process their feelings (like we don't do enough of those things already), or that I'm too angry/emotional or not "objective" enough, or that you, as an able-bodied person, can totally relate and here's a long comment detailing exactly how, or that you are concerned about the tone of my post, please remember that such a comment might not be taken in good faith, and that I might be a jackass to you in return. [Edit: Yes, I know I'm an asshole.]

Other than that, feedback is welcome. Also, be sure to go check out the other BADD 2009 posts at Diary of a Goldfish.

ETA The Third: Via Rachel at Metalsunflower, here is the plaintext version:

Description: Card is made up of white squares on a black background. Underneath the squares, the title (in white) reads "annaham presents invisible illness & disability bingo" followed by "2" in red.

First row, Square #1: I had a really bad migraine once, so I know how you feel

First row, Square # 2: Your anger is alienating all potential able-bodied allies

First row, Square #3: I had that and I got over it. I did it, and so can you!

First row, Square #4: You should use [X dubious "cure"], because it's safer than the drugs that Big Pharma has sold to you

Second row, Square #1: VISUALIZE your pain away! It totally works!

Second row, Square #2: Taking pills for your pain means that you are just a Big Pharma zombie

Second row, Square #3: That sounds like something you just made up/ that sounds fake

Second row, Square #4: My personal experience invalidates yours! I know people with disabilities, so I know what I am talking about.

Third row, Square #1: You can still walk, so you aren't really disabled.

Third row, Square #2: I'm able-bodied. Let's talk about me and how I deal with pain/ illness

Third row, Square #3: I don't agree with one thing you said in your post, so your entire experience/ point is moot.

Third row, Square #4: I don't have a disability, but let me tell you what would make your point(s) more digestible to "normal" folks

Fourth row, Square #1: A person with a disability was mean to me once, so all PWDs are mean and secretly jealous of able-bodied people!

Fourth row, Square #2: You already have the best parking spaces! What "special rights" will you demand next?!

Fourth row, Square #3: How do we know that you're not just a drug seeker/ drug abuser?

Fourth row, Square #4: Wow! You are so inspirational. I don't know how I would cope if I were in your situation.

Daughter of ETA: Rachel over at Metalsunflower has awesomely transcribed a text version of IIB 2, viewable at the bottom of this page. She has also text-scribed many other fantastic bingo cards from around the 'net, and kindly provided the plaintext version above. Thanks, Rachel!

ETA, 11/7/09: I completely forgot to include a text translation, which has kindly been pointed out by a commenter. I'm sorry; this was an inexcusable oversight and rather ironic, given that this was created for BADD. I am working on a text translation and will get it on the page as soon as possible.

30 April, 2009

Stupid White People Tricks

Heidi Montag and Spencer Somethingorother at LAX, after returning from a recent trip to Mexico; picture via Go Fug Yourself.


I only know who these brats are because I watch The Soup.

26 April, 2009

I Can't Be More Articulate Than...

First, read Amandaw's take on this piece of crap "PSA" from the fine folks at Dove:


Disabled people are not your fucking "inspiration" to show you that you are pretty, conventionally attractive white middle-class girl, and that you shouldn't have low self-esteem, because you are pretty! We're not your fucking After-School Special.

But thanks for putting us back in our place, Dove.

ETA: Anna has been kind enough to correct me on the origin of this thing; it's actually a student film project and is NOT a real Dove ad.

Still, though--this spot's portrayal of disability pretty much sucks.

17 April, 2009

Even MORE Epic Privilege Fail, This Time From a Fellow Feminist

Well, looks like someone's already committed parts of Derailing For Dummies to memory.

Seriously, what the in the high holy fuck is feminist about what pretty much amounts to "Ann Coulter is a transsexual, DUR HURRRRRR"? Oh, right, it's supposed to be "snarky" and "ironic." Sort of like the Jezebel twits and their hard-hitting stances on a number of controversial issues, or something. Oh, and both the Jezes and the blogger linked above have also issued fauxpologies, which seem to have the not-so-subtle-message of "LA LA LA IT WAS JUST A JOKE, LIGHTEN UP!" Yeah, that totally helps.

I wish I could be more coherent, but this sort of shit astounds me, and the fact that it keeps happening makes it worse.

16 April, 2009

Oh, Old Posts...

Check out this weird comment that I found on an old post:

I found this page due to a link left in a different journal, I forget which one.

I like the idea, and most of the comments. However, the last one needs re-worked. I find it extremely inappropriate to list using medical cannabis (which can be inhaled, or eaten, not just smoked) along with addictive and destructive things like gambling and shooting heroin.

Medical cannibis has a *lot* of science behind it, and forms of medical cannabis are being used in enlightened countries like Great Britian and Canada.


Access to medical cannabis is a political issue, not a health issue. Medical cannabis has been clearly scientifically proven to be an effective drug for pain control, much better than most of the drugs which the pharmaceutical want someone to use. This is a political issue based on control of the market by the big pharmaceutical companies, and your failure to recognize that does a huge discredit to your chart.

It would be far more appropriate to include a space which addresses the politics around denying people effective pain control.

Yes, because I love it when pot advocates tell ME what "discredits" MY WORK, and what is "appropriate" and not. Oh, and Big Pharma somehow gets worked in there, too. Love it.

I have had people who know next to nothing about my condition tell me that pot is "great for pain control" and that I should use it. Know why I chose to ignore them? Because a) they don't know me well enough to know that I do not want to become a pothead and b) pot can be addictive. I have a close relative who has struggled with marijuana addiction. I do not want to take that risk. That is my choice.

Assuming that one substance is a cure-all is, in a word, ridiculous. Do I tell other people with fibro that they should take Vicodin (as I do) for pain? No, because for some people it doesn't work. For some, it can be addictive. I have to keep this in mind. The pot advocates would do well to remember something similar. Pot is not a cure-all, no matter how you spin it.

If you want me to respect your opinion, please have the courtesy to respect mine in turn.

09 April, 2009

There's a Storm Gathering...A CAMEL STORM.

I don't think I have to tell you all how intensely idiotic and homophobic this PSA is:

My response can only be summed up by the following:

You said it, camels in a car.

03 April, 2009

Epic Privilege Fail

At first, I was unsure as to what I thought of this blog, in which a guy with (temporary!) underarm crutches takes photos of NYC subway riders who sit in the elderly/PWD seating instead of offering him a seat.

After reading this NY Times blog post on the site, however, I'm inclined to think that this is yet another mostly able-bodied person who claims the "social experiment" defense in order to take advantage of his own privilege, and to claim that he now somehow has insight into what it's like to live with a disability. Observe:

Wednesday morning, he was crossing 42nd Street after a long commute, accompanied by a reporter, when he was asked if he had learned any big lessons from the whole affair.

“Big lessons?” he said, pausing for a moment. “Honestly, no.”

After another moment’s thought, he added that the site and its reaction have given him a new appreciation for the lives of people with permanent disabilities.

“There’s these little struggles and battles going on every day,” he said. “You’d have to have a really good attitude to deal with it and have it not get to you.”

Yay, it's the PWDs as somehow brave and/or inspiring trope! My favorite. Also, note how being on crutches for some time apparently gives him super-special insight into what it's like to be a person with a (visible) disability! Never mind that dealing with a permanent health condition or disability is not just about getting (or not getting) a seat on the subway; there are other things that one must think about, plan around, and negotiate. Plus, there's that whole thing about disabilities that don't have any of the handy visual markers of disability that some able-bodied folks in our culture so strongly rely upon.

The comments to the article, predictably, are full of people who feel the need to share about how they, too, were once on crutches and experienced something similar, so they totally get how difficult it is to live with a physical disability.

This doesn't help.

31 March, 2009

I Don't Know What to Call This

The singer Martha Wainwright has a song entitled "Bleeding All Over You" that begins with the following set of lyrics:

There are days
when the cage doesn't
seem to open very wide at all

I know it sounds negative, but some days, I can definitely relate. Maybe it's the fact that I pass fairly regularly as able-bodied--at least in public spaces--or maybe it's my failure at passing on my worst days that makes me relate. As much as I hate to rely upon the old trope of the person-with-disability as trapped by her own unruly body, it, like many tropes, has a sliver of truth to it.

When I am in public, I often fear that other people--more able-bodied people--can "spot" my disability. On a purely surface level, this makes no sense. Part of what makes passing such an interesting topic is the fact that, on some level, the individual who passes can hide something and look as if she or he is a part of another group, despite some (invisible) evidence that would suggest otherwise. I realize also that not everyone has the ability to pass--that passing, in itself, is a privilege. The ability to appear to be something that one is not (often as a member of a more privileged group) is not something that absolutely everyone has.

Today, I sat in a restaurant and ate a light lunch very, very slowly because my right hand was unable to hold the fork without considerable muscle pain in my tendons and wrist. This sort of thing happens rarely, but when it does, I get nervous. I become nervous because I think that my fellow diners, or students, or whomever, can pick up on my not-immediately-obvious physical difference(s) from something that is only slightly "off." Even using a term like "off" is problematic; it implies that there is something wrong, that the person who needs to take time to do some of the things that others may take for granted needs to be fixed, somehow; that, or she needs to "fix" herself (by minimizing/masking her pain or ability or dis-ability) so that she may fit in and continue to pass.

So, are my restrained grimaces due to pain--when I am in public spaces, that is-- restrained because I, deep down, want to continue passing? Is it because I would be embarrassed to show my pain around strangers? Is it out of rather ridiculous consideration(s) of the "comfort" level of strangers (ie: the social assumption that one should never make people uncomfortable, even if one is in pain)? Does a "stiff upper lip," so to speak, actually do anyone a favor? I'd argue that the whole "keep your pain to yourself" thing might arise from a very deep fear of individuals with disabilities, but that's probably best saved for another post.

27 March, 2009

Time and Energy, Or Lack Thereof

This amazing post and its follow-up by Anna at Trouble in China have got me thinking. [In the interest of full disclosure, my Shakesville post is in there as an example of the problematic nature of inclusiveness.]

Whenever I mention this blog in, say, a contributor's or artist's bio, I nearly always include the qualifier "sporadically updated." Regular readers will know that this is partially my style--the dash of self-deprecation--but it masks something else. Namely: I very rarely have the energy to write a whole blog post, to respond to comments, or, hell, to comment on other blogs with wit and insight. This does not mean that I do not exist. It only means that I, quite simply, don't always have the mental or physical energy to contribute to a medium that is, by and large, designed in favor of the non-disabled.

Before the inevitable questions of "why don't you just quit?" arise, I keep and have kept this space for a very specific reason: I cannot just give up. Certainly, there are better writers out there than me. There are better blogs. I have blog friends who are more articulate, more stylistically clever; some of these folks who blog more, or have more readers. Yet I know that the blogosphere is a bit wicked in that one is only as good as her or his last post (to use a worn cliche). Some of us can crank out quality posts nearly every day. Many of us cannot.

I often cannot keep up with a 'sphere in which other voices--more able voices--have the luxury of time and actual emotional/physical energy to blog. The conspiracy theorist in me wants to chalk this up to the blogosphere's--and to a lesser extent, the internet's--design as yet another space where able-bodied folks can "fit," and can be "productive" in terms of number and quality of posts. For all the talk of the internet as a utopia where one is free to not be embodied, the same old shit seems to keep coming up, along with the big ol' Cthuluphant in the room: that the world is designed for able-bodied (and preferably white, straight, middle-class, and male) individuals. Productivity, fitting in, responding quickly: These are things that non-able-bodied folks may not be able to do, whether because of issues of time, energy, ease of access, or many other factors. What happens when one cannot type because of searing pain in her hands, wrists, arms? What happens when one finds that he is too brain-fogged to write a post, much less comment on an existing post that many other people have already commented upon? When one is confined to bed because of nausea or all-over pain that forces her to lie for hours, staring at the ceiling, doing nothing because it's all too much? What happens is that much-needed voices are not part of the conversation. They are lost, but not because they are not there.

This is shameful. There is no other word for it.

Do I know where to begin in pursuit of a solution? No.

Does anyone? I am not sure. I would like to hope that someone does, but I remain unsure.

We're here. You just might not know it, yet.

18 March, 2009

Winnie Has a Question...

Also, in less cute and/or more angry-making news, check out Lauredhel's takedown of an atrocious interview with some psychiatrist who believes that people with CFS and related illnesses are hysterics, or something. I was not able to read the whole article without wanting to chuck my computer across the room. Basically, the article is yet another go-round of "if I can't see it, then it must not be there, and the person who says they have it is totally making it up." Positively infuriating. I dare anyone who believes that people with these conditions do not face very real social consequences to read the article and still hold that sort of belief.

It sounds really, fantastically bitter and mean of me to say, but I often wish that people like Simon Wessley would one day wake up and find that they have a chronic health condition that literally changes everything for them; perhaps such an event would make them think twice before they talk out of their asses under the guise of "expertise."

07 March, 2009

I Don't Get It.

This photo is from a Vanity Fair feature on "Comedy's New Legends." It is Seth Rogen, dressed as Frida Kahlo:

Could someone explain to me precisely if and/or why this image is supposed to be funny? Frida Kahlo's work is not exactly a barrel o'laughs, and if you look at the rest of the photo set, this image doesn't quite fit in with the other photos. I could see how it makes some sense given that the rest of the photos are of new "legends" dressed as those of yesteryear, but...I'm stuck, and unsure of what this image is trying to convey. Man dressed as woman = automatically hilarious? Frida Kahlo is/was manly? I have no idea.

Also, re the cover image: Is male nudity really so offensive to various delicate sensibilities that all of the "nude" guys on the cover have to wear bodysuits? I get that it's supposed to be a takeoff on VF's ridiculous Tom Ford cover, but there is something about the bodysuits that makes it, at least in my eyes, less satirical and more shaming, as Melissa/Shakes so eloquently puts it. That said, the thing that I do like about this image is Paul Rudd's exact aping of Tom Ford--he's got it down to a t.

04 March, 2009

I Am Out of Ideas Today

I posted this over at Cheese and Dog, but I'm going to post it here anyway. Click for big.

19 February, 2009

Bad Poetry Corner with Annaham

Hello, readers! I have a very spur-of-the-nanosecond piece of poetry for you, written by yours truly and inspired by recent events both in the blogosphere (a great take on it by Bfp is here and not.

for what it's worth (dust)

i have to stop spending so much time in the 'net
but will that make the knot in my stomach go away?
it might just fester, and rot into a clump of some forgotten sticky cobwebs

some of those who say "i want to understand"
"i am not trying to silence you"
are just looking to cover themselves
and loop back to the same points they've made, over and over and over

over the course of threading some damn fancy eagle scout-style knots
reconfirm the biases, the mental wheel-ruts to which they're accustomed

what they really mean is
"just shut up and listen to me
because i know what i am talking about, even if what i am talking about
happens to be your experience"

it's the same old thing:

"your post offended me. i am a [name of privileged group] and i am not like that at all"
"i'm trying to be consciously racist, therefore i am not a racist"
"he's not trying to be consciously ableist, therefore he is not ableist"
"but listen: this piece/this cartoon/my opinion/the statistic that i just pulled out of my ass was not intended to be racist, therefore i should get a pass."

they say, sounding concerned for you via bits and bytes and letters
after all: they are only trying to help!
and wouldn't you be easier to listen to if you weren't so "angry" or "militant" or "negative"
or whatever dust they can flick off of themselves and onto you?

the dust will, as dust is wont to do, settle.
and no one is safe from it.

16 February, 2009

Obesity is a Person?

Via Scary Ideas come these weird PSAs from something called the Active Life Movement; the ads suggest that the Obesity Crisis is a thing that parents can keep away from their children (click for big):


Visual interesting-ness aside, these seem pretty problematic. Fatness is not something that is caused only by inactivity or "laziness," and the automatic assumption here seems to be that fat automatically equals unhealthy, unattractive, and/or the worst thing that could ever happen (notice how both Barbie and the superhero are alone, thereby insinuating that fat = alone or lonely).

I do not see how stigmatizing fatness in the name of promoting "health" helps anyone.

10 February, 2009

Joining the Privilege Pile-On?

I still have no idea what I think about this post. Normally, I very much enjoy Courtney Martin's writing, but this post, to me, screamed of privilege. I know she works hard, and consistently produces high-quality writing. The aforementioned post is not that. Am I supposed to feel envious of her lifestyle? Should I commiserate with her over the "email black hole"? Wish that I, too, could start my day at 11:00 AM? I am baffled.

I have long maintained that the feminist blogosphere has a fairly large number of blind spots (my use of this phrase is NOT intended to be ableist); if you read this blog regularly, you are probably aware that I consider disability to be one of these privilege(d) blind spots. Increasingly, as Lauren has pointed out, class position and work--particularly in this economic climate--are two others. I myself am not immune to worrying about the state of our economy--though I benefit from enormous privilege now (including familial and monetary support, having school as my primary "job," and health insurance, among other things), it is entirely possible that I will need to find employment that is not in the academic field in the coming months, when I have my completed BA degree in hand. [I have included the qualifier "entirely possible" because I am still waiting to hear from several graduate programs to which I have applied.]

Due to my disability, I am physically unable to work full time. The most I can do without depleting all of my available energy is about 30 hours per week. I am aware that it will be a challenge for me to find a job where I can work that amount of time and still be able to support myself; it is unlikely that starting work at 11:00 AM, checking email throughout the day, and eating "overpriced" sushi will be part of such a job. That is fine with me; what I take issue with is Martin's seemingly blatant disregard for those who may not be as lucky as she is. The tone of her post makes it appear that she is, for lack of a better word, "set." Some folks in the feminist blogosphere who may be in similar situations would do well to remember that this is not the case for many people.

08 February, 2009


Okay, now dieting is an acceptable topic for graphic novels?


This is one of those posts where I link something without much comment only because I lack the words to properly convey how idiotic it sounds.

She’s been there, and she’ll tell you and show you what it [sticking to a strict diet] was like — and give you the tools and inspiration so you can do it, too.



05 February, 2009

It's Me or the Dog

Fast-forward to about 10 seconds in; it is totally worth it.

11 January, 2009

Blog Neglect and Its Discontents

Y'all, I have totally been neglecting a blog project of mine that definitely deserves more time, attention and love.

That blog is Faces of Fibro. It hasn't been updated in a while. *hangs head in deep shame*

Please, for the love of Flying Spaghetti Monster, SEND ME YOUR STORIES about your experiences with fibromyalgia--yours, a loved one's, whatever. You can email me at annaham AT gmail dot com, or by clicking the "Contact the Ham" link on the right side of this blog. Seriously. I will post just about anything.

Guidelines can be found here. If you have an idea for a piece that doesn't fit with the themes in the guidelines but that you think might work, go ahead and let me know. I am also totally willing to read and offer suggestions for pieces that are in-progress, or offer suggestions to flesh out your ideas.

Thank you, and happy submitting!